The term ‘butcher of the Somme’ in the context of the Battle of the Somme
The term ‘butcher of the Somme’ in the context of the Battle of the Somme, a significant battle means that Haig was responsible for, almost casually, sending thousands of British troops to their deaths, at the hands of the Germans, for no reason at all. The battle was meant to make the war mobile again, but it led to a longer stalemate. Douglas Haig (1861-1928) was the British commander on the western front during World War I. He was later promoted to full general. With him in charge the casualties were British and Imperial casualties between July 1 and November 19, 1916 totalled approximately 420,000. On July 1st. (British + Canadian) 08:30-09:30= 30,000 casualties, 12:00= 50,000, end of day= 67,000.
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There are many arguments for and against for the title given to Haig.
There were many arguments for the title given to Haig. Many people, not historians say that he really did deserve it, mainly because there was no-one to blame except him for their ancestors’ deaths. There were many reasons.
For example Haig was stubborn in the sense that he kept using the same failing tactic until November. He had hardly any faith in his troops as he never used the Creeping Barrage with them as he predicted that he would kill his own men in it. Also his usage of favouritism led to the many unnecessary deaths as he used the inferior method of cavalry, which led to the deaths of troops and resources for transport.
In conclusion there were a lot of arguments in favour of the title. The fact that Haig wasted lives of men in such a way agrees with the fact of him being the ‘butcher of the Somme’
However, there are many arguments against that the title should be given to Haig. Some historians have found that many of his actions were caused due to poor communications and false reports, these led to his death-causing actions.
For example, his ‘messengers’ told him that the bombardment was going well and the barbed wire had been ‘ well cut’, this was not true, due to this, Haig launched an infantry attack thinking that most Germans were dead and the wire had been destroyed, this led to the 30,000 casualties within the first hour. Also, he did make it clear that there would be a large no. of casualties and deaths so one cannot really blame him. Moreover, the manufacturers of the guns and artillery were mostly duds so it is their fault. Furthermore, many of the army were inexperienced. Additionally and most importantly, he got hardly any help from the French, it was meant to be a Franco-British attack, and he was under a lot of pressure from t he two governments.
In conclusion, many of his moves were caused from poor and false communications as well as pressure from the governments. He also had to make do with inferior weapons.
To sum up, on one hand, Haig didn’t deserve the title as most of his actions were caused by false reports and low-grade weapons. On the other hand, even though he didn’t know about the non-success, he did later on and he still kept using the same failed tactics, overall, I think he did deserve it, the continuous usage of failing attacks and therefore causing more deaths for no reason is inexcusable, he did deserve it.
Did Haig really deserve the title ‘butcher of the Somme’ or has history judged him wrong